London: Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri shed tears of joy after his team beat Sunderland to move closer to the English Premier League (EPL) title and dedicated the win to the club's supporters.
Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri. Pic/AFP
Striker Jamie Vardy ended his six-game drought with a couple of second half goals as Leicester won 2-0 away to Sunderland on Sunday evening to go seven points clear at the top of the EPL charts. With five games to go, Leicester seem to be well on their way to clinch their first ever EPL title.
Sunday's result left Ranieri emotional on the sidelines and the Italian left the pitch in tears at the end of the game.
"It is fantastic when you see before the match, an old lady with a Leicester shirt outside the stadium. I say: 'Unbelievable. They come from Leicester to support us.' This is my emotion. It is fantastic. I was on the bus. I saw them, unbelievable, and I want to say thank you for the support. They are dreaming and we want to continue to dream," Ranieri said after the match.
"Its amazing just. I want to say thank you to everybody who came," he added. "It’s difficult to say how I feel inside but I’m not complaining."
"Nobody could have believed we would be in this position. But now we have to fight and fight."
The 64-year-old however, warned that while the Leicester fans may dream about winning the EPL, his players must continue to stay focused on one match at a time.
"To do this we must stay concentrated. This is an amazing season for us, for our fans, for our chairman, for me, for everyone. Our goal was to be safe. Next I said Europa League and it is there. Now we have the Champions League and we are very close to it. Come on, keep going. It is not a big day yet. We have the Champions League on the table but now we have to keep it, nothing more.
"We have to stay calm, be focused, strong, solid and keep going. Today we made some mistakes. We still have to look at what is not right," Ranieri was quoted as saying by the BBC.
"Other people can continue to talk about the title. It is important we stay focused on the next match. I said this to the players. We won today but now we have two matches at home, the first against West Ham United, a very difficult match because they are a fantastic team with good players. And then, after that, it is Swansea, another very difficult match. We must stay focused," he added.
Ranieri said that he had given Vardy a pep talk after the teams were locked 0-0 at the interval. Sunderland had impressed in the first half, but the manager's words evidently motivated Vardy as the England striker struck twice to take his tally to 21 goals.
"At half-time, I talked to him," Ranieri said. "I said: 'Come on Jamie, we need you…I need you.' And he spoke."